Why Become a Nurse Practitioner or DNP: Things You Should Know

Posted by admin on November 30th, 2020

When it comes to the role of helping, there is seldom any more rewarding job. This can be said for those who help animals, such as a vet, volunteers that work at shelters or other safe spaces, and of course, those in the medical field. There are so many career paths to take, which will result in helping someone, and all of them have their own pros and cons. However, whichever one you decide to take, it is worth knowing that you will be changing lives. 

For those who are passionate about working in the medical and care industry, a DNP (doctor of nursing practice) could very well be the next perfect step in your journey. You may or may not have already heard about being a DNP, but either way, this piece will guide you on some of the reasons why you might want to become a nurse practitioner, what you will need to do, and the skills you will need to achieve it. 

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

To begin, it is important to outline what exactly is a nurse practitioner does and how it can vary from other roles. A nurse practitioner or DNP is essentially a licensed, autonomous clinician who has a direct focus on managing a patient’s current health conditions but also works in preventing any health conditions or diseases too. 

Depending on the qualification of a nurse practitioner will also determine what level of care they are able to give and in which areas. For example, an advanced practice registered nurse may specialize in certain areas such as women’s health, dermatology, oncology, and pediatrics, to name a few. For those who wish to obtain a DNP, the highest nursing qualification, this will ensure that as a nurse practitioner, you are able to work in many different nursing fields but also gain the experience and skills while working in a clinical setting. 

What Does a Nurse Practitioner Do?

Generally, your responsibility as a nurse practitioner will vary depending on your state and its needs, along with their specialty. Like a physician, nurse practitioners will oversee all aspects of their patient’s care, while consulting other health professionals to treat any issues that arise through treatment and working with other medical assistants to help carry out care plans to the best of their ability.

There is a very wide scope in variety when it comes to what nurse practitioners can do. A nurse practitioner’s focus will often be directed to a specific patient population or demographic such as children and adolescents, women’s health, and the family unit.

A nurse practitioner’s responsibilities include but are not limited to taking patients’ medical histories and carrying out an assessment on their current health status, diagnosing any health issues that are found, and then developing a personalised care plan that will be used as treatment. Nurse practitioners will also educate patients and the general population on how best to manage a current disease, disorder, or health problem and offer preventative information and advice. Depending on the state, some nurse practitioners will also have full authority, which means they can practice completely independently of physicians and prescribe medication themselves.  

Nurse Practitioners Are in Demand

It will perhaps come as no surprise that those with skills and qualifications in the medical field are very much consistently in demand, and that is only projected to increase as we move forward. People are living longer, and there will always be a need for those who can help treat others, so becoming a nurse practitioner or DNP will see better and more steady care for those in need, fewer shortages of medical professionals, and a higher quality of care.

There is impressive projected growth for nurse practitioners within the span of 2019 to 2029, with an estimated increase of 45%, which is much faster than the average. This is thought to be because of the aging population who require health services and also an increased need for palliative care. This means it is predicted that nurse practitioners will have significant job security due to the ever-increasing demand for these health services. 

Intellectual Challenge and Self Progression

While it is admirable and extremely important to focus on what you can give out into the world when you become a nurse practitioner, it is equally important to understand the personal benefits you will receive from it. For many, it is important to have a job that is intellectually stimulating as well as caring, which is why becoming a nurse practitioner offers the best of both worlds.

Being a nurse practitioner by nature, especially a DNP (Doctor of Nursing practice), will see you solving complex situations and problems not only throughout your education but also throughout your entire career. Obtaining these qualifications is no easy feat. Not only are there often limited places to obtain a position on a course, but there are hundreds of hours’ worth of coursework, important exams, and extensive practical work and care under the supervision of experienced practitioners. Throughout this educational journey, it is likely that you will find an area of expertise that interests you and that you will wish to pursue as your subspecialty, which will also require extra education on top of your qualification along with extended clinical hours.  

This work will help you learn skills that will stay with you for life and will continue to help you grow and progress through your career.  

Return on Investment 

Education is not cheap. When it comes to extended education and qualifications at a higher level, such as nurse practitioner or DNP, another important consideration is the return on investment when choosing a career path. Most people cannot afford to pay thousands of dollars for a degree if they do not have the opportunity of earning it back, so when it comes to investing in being a nurse practitioner, you work hard to achieve the extraordinary opportunity of saving lives while also earning a competitive wage and some well-deserved benefits too, such as paid vacation, health insurance, education reimbursement and allowance, professional liability insurance, fees covered for meetings and conferences and retirement planning to name a few. 

A nurse practitioner’s average salary is around $84,000 annually, whereas a DNP doctor of nurse practice can expect a starting wage on average of around $106,000 a year. This will vary depending on which state you practice in, but these are only the predicted starting wage, which means the potential for return on your investment, along with the benefits, could be huge. 

Personal Fulfilment 

Perhaps one of the most common reasons to go into nursing is the gratifying feeling of helping others. Making a difference in someone’s life is often one of the most rewarding things we can do, and being a nurse practitioner does exactly that, day in day out. Whether you are providing preventative information or taking a patient through a care plan, day in day out, you are contributing to the betterment of someone else’s health, wellbeing, and quality of life. If you feel like helping someone is your calling, then nursing someone back to their best will be an unbeatable feeling. 

Of course, personal fulfillment also includes the financial stability that comes with pursuing a role in medicine and the consistent mental challenges that keep you engaged and growing. 

A Brand New Perspective

If you are thinking about taking on this career path later on in your life, there is a good chance that you will have already done something either completely different or something within the care field. Either way, transitioning to become a nurse practitioner means it is highly likely you will have a brand new perspective and fresh skills to bring to the table, which is always extremely useful in medicine. Skills that have been acquired through previous jobs such as management and leadership skills, problem-solving skills, conflict resolution, and other professional skills can come in handy when it comes to the medical field. There is no need to be put off if you are coming from an entirely different background as more often than not, that diversity in skillset will propel you into a future of nursing. 

The Variety of Being a Nurse Practitioner or DNP 

Many of us have had to face a job where we become stuck in a rut. Even with responsibility, we know what is going to happen next, and we could do it with our eyes closed. When it comes to being a DNP or nurse practitioner, no two days are ever the same. This is a really good point for those who like variety in their day, but not only that, the career routes do not have to be the same either. You are able to work in various specialties and even have a change in the workplace. 

Some nurse practitioners like to get amongst it all and be right next to the surgeon in hospitals. Other nurse practitioners might prefer to be in a general practice office, helping families and their loved ones. There are routes available so nurse practitioners can work in a government health agency, or some might prefer to go down the path of palliative care, where you can help ease patients’ pain and support them through their journey to better health and quality of life through life-changing illnesses. 

What Are the Disadvantages of Being a Nurse Practitioner? 

Amount of Work

As with all careers, there will be some challenging parts, and when it comes to medicine, that is most likely not a surprise. Some of the benefits could also be disadvantages for some, such as the extreme amount of work and time it takes to become a nurse practitioner or DNP. Sometimes this amount of work is not achievable, or they may find it difficult to finish the educational requirements, which will give them the qualification to practice. 

Amount of Work Hours

The hours can be extremely long, which will more than likely include night shifts. While hours vary from employer to employer, for practices and hospitals who work around the clock to offer 24-hour care, there may be a requirement to do double shifts, be on-call or work overtime. Those who go into private practices do have more control over their hours, but due to the nature of the job, nurses are needed when they are needed. 

High Stress 

Stress is a prominent part of most work, but medical practitioners really take the prize when it comes to dealing with stress. There will be uncomfortable, upsetting, and sometimes disturbing situations to deal with, and taking care of someone in a medical capacity is a huge responsibility, not only personally but also for legal reasons. Because of the nature of the job, there will often be upset, scared, and nervous family members, which can be challenging to be around all day.  

What Do You Need to Do to Become a Nurse Practitioner?   

If the disadvantages have not put you off and you have made it this far, then you might be curious about what you need to do to be a nurse practitioner. For those who are starting from the beginning, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in nursing to become a registered nurse is the first step to becoming a nurse practitioner or doctor of nurse practice. For those who are already a registered nurse and are looking to obtain the highest qualification in nursing, the next step is to take a DNP course. 

Suppose you already have a bachelor’s degree in a different subject. In that case, you might not be required to undertake another degree, or on the contrary, some organizations might require you to have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing subject as well as a nursing one. Whichever route you are thinking about taking, just make sure to check as this will vary for different courses and different states. Don’t be afraid to ask professionals what might be the best route for you and what you can do with whatever qualifications you already have.




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